I dare you to name another artist who has made so many consistently excellent albums over the past decade as Marianne Faithfull. Ok, Wilco comes to mind, but considering that Marianne is at an age (64) when most artists find themselves struggling creatively, her output is even more impressive.
Like 2008’s excellent Easy Come, Easy Go, Horses And High Heels was produced by Hal Willner, who seems to have a knack for pairing Faithfull with the right songs and the right musicians. The album opens with a cover of The Gutter Twins’ (Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan) The Stations. It’s a dark, brooding number that sits perfectly with Marianne’s voice and delivery. It’s followed by one of four Faithfull originals. Why Did We Have To Part is full of heartbreak and nostalgia and features subtle harmonies from Jenni Muldaur. It’s another keeper.
Elsewhere Faithfull tackles tunes by Jackie Lomax (No Reason), Lesley Duncan (Love Song) and Carole King (Goin’ Back). Her take on The Shangri-La’s Past, Present and Future might seem unlikely, but Marianne pulls off the melodramatic lyric with style and grace. The only track that doesn’t quite work is Allen Toussaint’s Back In Baby’s Arms. For all her talent, Faithfull is not a soul singer and she sounds out of place on top of the funky track, led by Dr. John’s piano. Lou Reed’s guitar solo doesn’t really help matters either.
Marianne is backed by a gaggle of top-notch musicians including former Lucinda Williams guitarist Doug Pettibone and The Meters’ bass player George Porter, Jr. But its Faithfull’s ability to get inside a song and bring it to life that really makes this a joy to listen to. Let’s hope her winning streak continues for another decade.
Click here to listen to The Stations from Horses And High Heels: